Manama: A 15-second clip of a Saudi woman riding a horse and carrying the Saudi flag on the kingdom’s national day has triggered an intense debate over the status of women in society.
The clip has been viewed and shared more than 32,000 times the day it was posted on social media, with some people decrying the woman’s action and others supporting her.
Supporters called her a brave woman who should be a source fo pride for the country.
“I testify that she is an accomplished rider and a patriot who did not hesitate to display her love and allegiance for the country,” The Pen of the Truth, a blogger, posted. “The nation should be proud of such people, and never of those who openly show they have no allegiance to the country by supporting the Muslims Brotherhood of Daesh militants.”
Abu Sihah said that women deserved to be encouraged to move forward.
“I wish I had been there to cheer her on. We should seriously think about opening equestrian clubs for women,” he said.
Another blogger called for more occasions to allow women to ride.
“She was a brave rider and she succeeded in burning the hearts of those who hate life and love darkness,” he posted.
However, some bloggers were sharp in their criticism.
“This woman did something very dangerous since it challenged the religion and conservatives traditions,” a blogger writing under the moniker of “Discovery” said. “It is true that women in the past rode horses, but it was for duty purposes, not to show off.”
According to Abu Fahd, only liberals and leftists could support the woman.
“They want our women to drop their veils and mix freely in public places with men. But they will fail, like they are failing in allowing women to drive cars. These people are trying to fulfil the wishes of the West,” he said.
Some bloggers were rather nuanced in their criticism.
“Women riding horses is not something new, and there are many women who did it before,” one blogger said. “There is nothing wrong with it. In this case, we have a true patriot who rode on a horse and carried the national flag in an emotional tribute to the nation,” he said.
Hmood Al Otaibi, another blogger, said that there was nothing wrong with women learning to ride horses, but he insisted that it should be done in private places, not in public.
“She should do it on a private farm with her family, not among strangers who might take her pictures or post video clips of her on social networks,” he said.